Lord Byron

A picture of the author Lord Byron

Englishman George Gordon Byron (1788-1824), known simply as Lord Byron, is considered one of England's greatest poets. He was a leading figure in the romantic movement, and famous for "Don Juan" and "Chile Harold's Pilgrimage", two long narrative poems as well as for the short lyric poem "She Walks in Beauty."

Born into wealth and privilege, Lord Byron lived excessively, incurring huge debts, carrying on numerous affairs with people of both sexes, and fathering at least two children out of wedlock. He grew to embody aristocratic excess, for which he was both celebrated and vilified. He married Anne Isabella Milbanke in 1815 and had a child, Ada, but his wife considered him insane and divorced him the following year. Byron's sexual dalliances were one reason for their unhappy marriage, but a disturbing obsession with his half-sister Augusta. Byron's fixation on his half-sister inspired attracted gossipy insinuations of incest. With the scandal of divorce, the notoriety of his relationship with Augusta, and ever mounting debt piling up behind him, Byron left England in April 1916 never to return.

In 1813, while at a ball, Lord Byron encountered Mrs. John Wilmont. She was a cousin by marriage and attended the ball wearing black. Lord Byron was inspired by her beauty and penned the lyrical poem, She Walks in Beauty the next morning.

Read about Byron's feud with his Irish poet contemporary, Thomas Moore, who burned Byron's memoirs in retaliation for Byron referring to Moore's "leadless pistols." Those are fighting words by any standard.

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